'Light of Light'

[Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis in the garden of ‘The Kilns’]

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, -and with all thy sou/, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets". Matt. xxii. 37-40.

The telephone rings. It would ring, of course, just when your typewriter is at last clacking happily; an article that has been agonizingly slow to start is finally under way. Muttering something censorable, you break off in the middle of a sentence and go to answer the ring. Perhaps, at least, the interruption will be a pleasant one?

No such luck. The caller is a neighbour who is well established as the neighbourhood nuisance; a bitter, malicious old woman who has divorced her husband, driven away her children, quarrelled with her friends, and walked out of her church—and who is now eating her unrepentant soul out in loneliness and self-pity. You're the only one for miles who still speaks to her, and you don't enjoy doing it. Today she says, with a consciously pathetic catch in her voice, that she's absolutely desperate, and won't you come over and cheer her up?

Rebellion surges in your mind. Oh, no, not again! You think in a flash of all the times you've tried in vain to tell her of God and repentance and grace, only to be jeered at as a credulous fool. You think of the good practical advice scorned, the attempts at reassurance sneered at. You know very well that this time too all you will get from her will be a denunciation of other people, an assertion of her own perfect virtue, and a series of small nasty digs at yourself. But not this time, not just as you've finally managed to get started writing—it's too much. After all, one can't help those who don't really want to be helped.

Joy Davidman
Smoke on the Mountain (Hodder & Stoughton) 1955
Chapter 11 (extract)

[If you can obtain this book, do. It is a really original interpretation of the Ten Commandments by the lady who was to become, a very short time later, the love of C.S. Lewis’ life]

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